A Week with the 2018 Lincoln Navigator

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Lincoln (Ford) invited me into the lap of luxury for a week with the redesigned 2018 Lincoln Navigator Black Label. Boyz II Men said it best – it’s so hard to say goodbye to yesterday. I’m going to miss driving this sporty beast with a V-6 cranking 450 horsepower and 510 lb-ft of torque, the same engine you’ll find in Ford’s fire-breathing Raptor. This near three-ton blue chrome ship will spank most cars on the road with your family in the back waving through the tinted windows.


After living in our home nearly three years I got a leather recliner. It’s one of the joys of my life. My wife loves taking pictures of me laying in it and she doesn’t understand my fascination. I’d throw this chair into a dumpster fire if I could unbolt the 30-way front seats of the Navigator and have those instead. Those seats take the old “captain’s chairs” moniker to a whole new level by providing the opportunity to adjust the headrest, upper back, lower back, extended leg support, lumbar and flank support both at the thighs, with a back massage thrown in to really mix it up. I’ve never experienced more customizable seats than this. The one feature not mentioned in the seats, but most exciting for me? Air conditioning. When you leave work in the summer afternoon and the asphalt is punishing you on the walk through the parking lot, the air conditioned seats deliver a respite that cannot be achieved by mere a/c set to max alone. (Lincoln, please make air conditioned leather recliners.)

The seating for the second and third row is spacious and accommodating. There’s a center console for the second row with a digital screen in the arm rest in case you want to give the passengers some control to play their favorite Cardi B track.

If you’ve got an extra large haul from Costco, double press the key fob to open the back hatch, large enough to cover a Midwest family reunion during a summer downpour, and press the buttons inside the cab to fold down the second and/or third row seats.

You can also select the left or right side or both sides from either row. Once both rows of seats are folded down, you can pack anything you want inside the cab – it’s bigger than the storage unit you swear you’re going to clean out.


Remember when you bought your car, they gave you an instruction manual and you ignored it because you’re grown and you know how to figure things out? This Navigator has so much technology that if I had the time and owned the vehicle, I’d likely read the manual because the number of menus, buttons, knobs and features available will make your head spin. Ford/Lincoln’s SYNC is part of the package delivering both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, depending upon your life choices. There are high speed USB outlets everywhere, wireless charging in the center console (works with the iPhone X), interior lighting color options to suit your mood and more. The menu and navigation information is pumped through an Apple iPad Pro-sized 12″ screen. The people in the third row and in outer space (through the pano sunroof) can see what’s going on. It’s that big. Traditional gauges are also a thing of the past with a fully digital display. The display minimizes what’s not important, so you’ll find the digital needle pointing to your speed and RPMs and the surrounding numbers are fading away like Marty McFly in good ol’ 1955 at the Enchantment Under the Sea dance.

Lincoln helps keep you properly on the road with a ton of safety features. The Navigator has cameras all over it so you get a simulated overhead view when you’re backing up, a fantastic rearview camera, sensors abound, a heads-up display showing that the lane keeping assistant is active, speed, cruise control information and also speed limits. I found speed limit information wasn’t always accurate, so instead of reading signs like some vehicles, it must be pulling the information from a database. If I had the vehicle permanently, I’d have read the manual to find out how to provide feedback for speed limits to update the databasae.

Lincoln also took the audio in the Navigator seriously. Packed with 20 speakers, the Revel audio system will knock your socks off. There will be socks everywhere and you’ll likely lose one, like you do in the dryer. Revel is part of the Harman brand, which is part of Samsung after they dropped $8 billion on them. Harman has been producing killer audio hardware for years and with the acquisition by Samsung, it will continue for many years to come. The sound insulation from the road is excellent in the Navigator, leaving your favorite tracks sounding amazing.


Hands down, this is the finest looking Navigator yet. Lincoln designers crafted the grille with a fine polish to make it look particularly expensive. The Black Label version of this Navigator smells like a high-end leather shop, with most surfaces covered in proper hide. The trim pieces inside are done in a tasteful and expensive-feeling whitewashed wood, to go with the yacht theme. The 22″ wheels, while lovely and understated, still provide a supple but sporty ride. You’ll find LED lights all over the vehicle for bright, instant-on illumination, as well as tasteful puddle lights that shine out of the door handles.


This beautiful school bus moves! The Raptor-borrowed engine, tuned for Lincoln, has a V6 rasp at idle, but turn the dial to Excite mode, stomp on the gas and tell the fam to hold on because you’re about to show the streets who’s boss. Lincoln has body roll control to keep you upright and feeling confident in the process even when you need to take a curve a little faster to get the kids to swim practice on time. The Navigator can be as much fun to drive as you want it to be. Otherwise, put it in Eco mode and just cruise the block like you should be doing anyway. All the neighbors will stare, nod approvingly and give you two thumbs up.

Disclosure: Lincoln provided this vehicle for testing for a week with full tank of gas for my enjoyment. The wife felt fancy in it, too.

Ford Atlas Chief Designer Interview: Gordon Platto

Interview of Gordon Platto, Chief Designer of the Ford Atlas Concept, by Nan Palmero.

It’s not every day I get to interview a chief designer of any car, so when I was offered the opportunity I said “YES! How soon!?” The friendly Gordon “Gordo” Platto, Chief Designer of the Ford Atlas Concept and I chatted about the handsome beast.

NP: What inspired you in the design process of the Atlas Concept?

Gordo: Ford has been a truck leader for over 36 years and we wanted to keep leading. We tested the waters on what the next-gen trucks could look like. To do so, we went on immersion events to design for customers aesthetically and functionally. We learned that trucks aren’t just for work, they serve a dual purpose as a tool for work and life. The customers want to be comfortable driving it with family and friends with uncompromised appearance and function. Before styling, it’s about getting the tough job done. Fuel efficiency is a key component. We took it from the sleek bullet train look to the locomotive and ended up somewhere in between.


NP: Is this a departure for trucks?

Gordo: This is a balance between a beautiful and functional truck. In the past trucks have looked fit for purpose, just nice, rather than beautiful. With the understanding of having a work and lifestyle vehicle, the aesthetics have been pumped.

NP: What is the most unique feature of the Atlas?

Gordo: There are two things. This is a show truck, so the ideas have been pushed to the extreme. The customer is interested in fuel efficiency and the aerodynamic features have gotten a lot of interest. The active wheel shutters close. There are shutters within each wheel space of the rim which operate dynamically. The active aerodynamic shutters in the grille work in conjunction. There is a cargo cradle that comes up from the tailgate to the height of the roof to carry long boards and canoes for people with active lifestyles.


NP: Is there a new “must” that will change trucks?

Gordo: A few years ago American trucks had to have a V8. Now, the V6 EcoBoost has been a very well accepted engine because of fuel efficiency. Weight and aerodynamics are playing a large role in fuel efficiency choices. Part of our DNA is tough trucks so we couldn’t make trucks look as slippery as our bullet train design (above), even though the truck is very aerodynamic. Trucks will continue to go more premium, though, I’m not sure if we’ve hit the ceiling yet. Vehicles, and trucks in particular, need to be more connected even more. The connectivity of trucks is becoming even more critical for the work that they are used for.

NP: What is one thing you saw in a competitor’s vehicle that you felt was a great idea?
Gordo: A corner bumper step is a really neat idea. We had integrated the step in our tailgate, so we both achieved similar results.

NP: What technology was new for this truck that might have not been possible in the past?

Gordo: The LED lighting inside the headlamps have played a strong role and will be in trucks of the future. The active grille shutters are a strong compliment for fuel economy, too. Fuel economy continues to be one of the key drivers for vehicles. The new EcoBoost will have the start/stop feature. Each of these features will carefully play into gaining extra mileage towards better fuel economy.


A wonderful thank you to Gordo for taking time to visit. If you’d like to see more, check out the video below and the Ford Atlas Concept page.